NEWLY APPOINTED Head of List Management for the Carlton Football Club, Nick Austin, has had his sights set on the role since the beginning of his career in sport.
Nick has built his career over the last 14 years, beginning as an opposition analyst through roles at the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide.
He then joined Richmond in opposition analysis, leading into a role as a List Management and Recruitment Officer at Richmond before returning to the Bulldogs as National Recruiting Manager.
He joined the Blues at the end of 2019 as Head of List Management.
Students from the Carlton College of Sport had the opportunity to ask Nick about his career path and what it takes to become the List Manager in the AFL.
What sparked your interest in the game and particularly in List Management?
“Footy was in my blood from the time I was born. My Dad was a Premiership player at Carlton, he played for fourteen years and played 200 games. I just grew up following him.
“I knew that I wanted a career in football and the recruiting and opposition analysis side of things really appealed to me, so I worked on making that happen.”
How did you get into recruiting?
“I started at the Western Bulldogs in 2006. The short answer is, I knew one of the assistant coaches through a friend and volunteered my time. I just kept emailing and emailing until they rang before the season started to go and scout some games in an opposition analysis capacity.
“But my real passion was in recruiting, and I got my break when the Port Adelaide Recruiting Manager, Blair Hartley, called with an opportunity to become a Recruiting Officer in 2009. It was an amazing opportunity to basically shadow him, he taught me everything he knew, how everything was done and introduced me to people in the industry.”
What does a normal day as a List Manager look like?
“There is no normal day, every day is different. I spend a lot of time on the phone and meeting with player managers. I spend a fair bit of time watching our guys train and sitting in on the line meetings. It’s important I know what roles everyone is playing on game day and understand who is performing and who isn’t.”
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Where did you go to scout players as a Recruiting Manager?
“I’d watch a NAB League double header one day, then jump on a plane to Adelaide to watch two or three games over there and then come back to Melbourne. We’d be traveling around Australia on anywhere between 35-50 flights per year, so it’s pretty full on.”
“Wherever the talent is, wherever the good players are, wherever we hear that there is someone who is under the radar that we want to have a look at, you just have to go and do it.”
How do you measure character versus talent when recruiting?
“The argument between talent and character comes up every year with every single pick. From a draft point of view, with the resources that we have now to put into the character side of it, you don’t really get many surprises anymore.”
“Everyone is a sucker for talent, but the character part of it is huge. We do a lot of work now to get a lot of background information, doing psychological tests and interviews at home.”
Register your interest to find out more about where studying at the Carlton College of Sport can take you.